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No, the blue light from your cellphone might not make you age faster

BLue light is just a simple wave band in the visible light spectrum, but it has captured many shortcomings in recent years because of concerns that our closeness to cellphones or computers – and their LED screens – continues to increase. This fear has caused several strange solutions, including cosmetic products such as sunscreen to protect your skin from the harmful effects of blue light.

And research]published Thursday in the journal Aging and Mechanism of Disease revealed findings that exposure to blue light can accelerate aging too.

… well, if you're a fruit fly that's been exposed to high doses for 12 consecutive hours, that's it.

Apart from the fear that is largely caused by technology surrounding blue light, many of the results of these studies cannot be concluded or found using experiments that do not truly reflect our daily experiences. And this latest fruit fly trial is no different.

cellphone in bed

In their experimental settings, the study's authors explain exposing different fruit groups to fly to three different light conditions:

  • 24 hours of total darkness
  • 12 hours of white light with a blue light filter, and 12 hours of dark
  • 12 hours of deep blue light, and 12 hours of darkness

The intensity of light in this experiment is measured using something called a photon flux, which is basically a measurement of how many particles of light (aka photons) that pass through the area every second. If you imagine this photon flowing out of our screen like water from a shower, the flux is how strong the water flows.

But not all flux is created equal, and lead researcher Jaga Giebultowicz, Ph.D., professor of integrative biology at Oregon State University, said Reversed that the intensity of the blue light used in their study is much stronger than what you find from your cellphone.

"The effect of cell phones on human cells can be more subtle and difficult to detect," Giebultowicz said.

In this different trial, Giebultowicz and his team found that older flies exposed to blue light appeared to age faster than their younger or non-blue counterparts, as determined by their deteriorating movements after the trial.

Fruit flies react badly to prolonged exposure to blue light, but that doesn't mean humans will.
Fruit flies react badly to prolonged exposure to blue light, but that doesn't mean humans will.

They also found that mutants, eyeless flies (yikes) still showed a negative effect after exposure to blue light even though light never entered their non-existent retina. Researchers can determine that the effect of blue light directly impacts the fly's brain instead. Regarding how it happened, this study did not reveal a path or conclusive explanation.

However, while it is clear that the flies in this experiment had a difficult time, it is still unclear how this will translate to humans and our blue light-emitting device.

First, even though we spend a lot of time on our devices, we may not spend up to 12 hours directly in front of them every day, or they become bright enough or tilted properly to give us a full load of their light.

And speaking of brunts, the blue lights that we can expect to receive from our devices aren't Is it true as strong as that. When talking about how much light intensity is received from photon flux, which is measured in joules per square centimeter, the researchers use a different measurement called irradiance. According to a blog post by a chemical Ph.D. and science educator Michelle Wong, the light emitting from our screens in the last trial was only measured as high as 9.7 microwatts per square centimeter. This is still far lower than the level during, say, summer in Texas which is around 5000 microwatts per square centimeter, according to a 2012 study in Journal of Dermatology Investigation.

To achieve the level of damage intensity described in the previous blue light study, which Wong found using an average flux of 40 joules per square centimeter, users had to spend weeks to months in front of their device, which obviously was far longer than 12 hours the fly survives.

That said, should you spend every hour in front of your screen? Probably not. But will it produce rapid aging if you do it? Again, maybe not.


Light is needed for life, but prolonged exposure to artificial light is a matter of improving health. Humans are exposed to an increase in the amount of light in the blue spectrum produced by light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which can disrupt the normal sleep cycle. LED technology is relatively new; therefore, the long-term effects of blue light exposure across all ages are not understood. We investigated the effects of light on the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, and determined that flies maintained in the 12-hour daily cycle of blue LEDs and 12-hour darkness significantly reduced longevity compared with flies maintained in constant darkness or in white light with blue. wavelength blocked. Exposure to adults flying for up to 12 hours of blue light per day accelerates the aging phenotype which causes damage to retinal cells, brain neurodegeneration, and movement disorders. We report that brain damage and locomotor damage does not depend on degeneration in the retina, because this phenotype is proven under blue light in flies with genetically eroded eyes. Blue light induces the expression of genes that are responsive to stress in old flies but not at a young age, indicating that cumulative light exposure acts as a stress trigger during aging. We also determined that some blue-sensitive proteins were known to not work in a pathway that mediated the adverse effects of light. Our study revealed the unexpected effects of blue light on the fly's brain and established Drosophila as a model for investigating the long-term effects of blue light at the cellular and organism level.

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